Scott Meenagh is one of Great Britain’s newest para biathletes. (OK so he also does cross country but that is not so important!) He was born on the 16th of September 1989 and is from Cumbernauld in Scotland. He comes from a military background and he served in the 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment. Whilst serving in Helmand province in Afghanistan he stepped on an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) and lost both his legs. Scott has competed as a rower and has taken part in the Invictus Games and he will do so again this September in Toronto. His target is to go to the Paralympic Games in PyeongChang next March to take part in the sitting cross country and biathlon races.
You can follow Scott on Twitter: @SMeenagh
Why did you decide to become a biathlete?
I was lucky enough to be in Sochi for the 2014 Paralympic Games and was completely in awe of the sit skiers! It just looked incredible. Such physicality along with technical ability. Also being an ex soldier the skill of being able to shoot accurately under physical strain is a skill to be proud of!
Last season was your first World Cup and World Championships in para Nordic. How do you assess the season? Was it a massive learning curve? What did you learn about biathlon?
My first season was fast and furious. Every single race was a chance to learn something completely new and work on the short term season goals I had set myself. I only finally entered biathlon races towards the back end of the season and that was a huge learning curve. I think patience is truly a virtue in the biathlon world!
Where do you get the funding and support to be able to compete in para biathlon?
I have been lucky enough to be supported firstly by the Armed Forces Para Snow sports team (AFPST) and Help for Heroes on the journey into the sport as I am an ex serviceman. Recently I have been supported by the Scottish Institute of Sport (SAPA) funding for athletes bidding to make it to PyeongChang 2018.
You are also a rower (which is frowned upon as it is a summer sport!). How much of the skills for rowing cross over into skiing?
Rowing has truly been helpful on my journey into the Winter world. The sport is equally as physical and the hard training regime is similar to that of biathlon.
Being part of the well established GB Rowing team Paralympic programme helped me learn how to train as a full time athlete and pay attention to the little details that become the big things in performance sport, both skills I could bring across to Para Biathlon and Nordic whose programme is very much in its infancy and it’s truly exciting and special to be part of that journey.
What have you already done for summer training and what is the plan until the season starts?
I have been well on my way into the new season since the end of April. Lots of base miles on my hand bike and weights training. I have recently returned from our first snow camp of the new season in Oberhof, Germany.
Roller skiing is a massive part of my training. I also run a lot on my carbon fibre running blades.
What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you most need to improve on in biathlon?
I feel my strength lays in my ability to work hard and really put the extra effort in. I am willing to push myself hard in training and racing. I also feel I am becoming a student of the sport. I want to learn from every experience I have and from the incredible coaches and athletes around the World Cup circuit.
In terms of my areas I aim to improve. Technical ability into fast corners has been a constant work on for me along with the ability to race with my head up and looking for the best lines etc. I feel I want to become a more intelligent skier. Pick the right lines and times to work hard/recover.
Patience is something I aim to work hard on when it comes to range time. Switching off from hard skiing to being composed on the range can prove a real challenge. I’m loving the journey of learning.
What are your goals for this season in para nordic?
This season I want to improve on the areas I fell short on last season and go into the coming World Cup season as a far more rounded skier. Focusing hard on my technical ability along side the power endurance it requires to climb multiple hills with just your arms.
You went to the World Cup round in PyeongChang? What did you think of the shooting range and the tracks there? Do they suit you or did you find them difficult?
I LOVED PyeongChang! What an incredible place! The course is looking superb. Lots of tough climbs on the course which is a challenge I am relishing. The lack of snow especially in the afternoons may prove challenging at Games time but I am confident Korea will put on a special show! The shooting range is really well laid out. A little on the windy side at times but that just keeps things interesting!
You have also competed in the Invictus Games and are going to do so again this season. There is no biathlon in them!!! What are you going to do and what are they like to compete in?
The Invictus Games are fantastic! I am extremely proud to have competed there and medalled in the past. The games were the stepping stone for me into full time sport. This year I will be running and rowing, giving me plenty of challenge to compete in different distances over a short period of time. A nice way to test myself and experience a Games environment with a view to getting things right at the Paralympics! The energy an Invictus Games brings is very unique. The people who compete there inspire me every day. They really define how special sport can be to recovery.
I hear you are a bit of a dare devil. What have you already done and what would you like to do in the future?
Haha! I’m curious to who you’ve heard this from!
Well I guess if I used to jump out of planes for a living I can say I do enjoy a thrill.
I have skydived and bungee jumped since losing my legs which were incredible! Also I love a bit of Alpine skiing (just for fun though!) my heart is truly Nordic! (The correct answer!)
When I get a bit of free time I really enjoy surfing with friends. It’s hard work paddling out but you are rewarded by getting to ride some awesome waves!
You are the second Scottish Scott in biathlon now after Scott Dixon. Do you have any contact with the British Biathlon Union or any of the British biathletes who compete on the IBU?
Sadly not as much as I would like to. Our teams tend to be like passing ships in the night as the Para circuit and able bodied world move on their own schedules during a fast and furious winter season. I am still the new kid on the block and would welcome absolutely any opportunity to learn from the guys who compete on the IBU.
Does your rifle have a name?
I’ve heard a lot of this chat on the biathlon scene. I can say I have not named my rifle. But if you have any suggestions…fire away!! See what I did there!
Describe yourself in three words.
Enthusiastic, Passionate and absolutely determined to achieve what I set my sights on…..so many biathlon puns here!
Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlon track: Vuokatti, Finland
Favourite shooting range: Finsterau,Germany
Favourite event: 15km
Favourite biathlete (IPC or IBU): Collin Cameron from Canada (IPC)
Lucky bib number: 6
Favourite training activity: I really enjoy long roller ski sessions. Often my dog Jura comes out and tries to keep up!
Nicest biathlete on the IPC tour: Trygve Larson from Norway . The smiling assassin. He is a fantastic biathlete and an all round good guy!!
Best thing about being a biathlete: I love seeing so much of the world and all the spectacular venues we train and compete in. I really like the variety of courses too. No two are the same.
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